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North Kensington Archive and Heritage Project

The Raphael Samuel History Centre worked with the Kensington Narrators to deliver a Heritage Lottery Funded project to create an archive of the community’s arts response to the Grenfell Tower fire.

It contributes to the preservation of North Kensington’s local heritage and is a creative, educative and empowering response to the tragedy in that community that will document, preserve and exhibit the response to the fire, while also celebrating the community in all its diversity, resilience, collaboration, colour and vibrancy.

It built capacity in the community to continue to document, preserve and interpret our culture, art and heritage in a format that can be widely accessed for many generations to come. The Raphael Samuel History Centre, using historian volunteers, provided the community with training and equipment with the aim of building a legacy of hope for young people by empowering them with tools and education to create and preserve their own heritage in the future.

The archive and heritage project was run by a team of long-standing local art project coordinators, teachers and youth groups from North Kensington with the support of the RSHC.


The Kensington Narrators conducted a year of unfunded voluntary, community consultation before beginning this project in response to consistent calls from the community to create a long-lasting, open-access, community-led archive that could help them tell their story and make sure it was preserved. During the consultation period it also became apparent that permanent physical storage, massive gigabyte storage and professional cataloguing facilities were not available to meet people’s immediate archiving needs. These needs became urgent, as people were running out of digital and physical storage space, material was being destroyed and lost, and stories were being forgotten.

The archive is held at the Bishopsgate Institute. 


Our partner, FerArts worked with young people from North Kensington to create a permanent digital exhibition of the archival material and which highlights the incredible artistic, design and technical abilities of that community.


The North Kensington Archive and Heritage Project recruited community volunteers and train them in archiving techniques and cataloguing.

In the second half of the project, the RSHC ran a series of workshops aimed at young people, showing them how to use archives to learn about the history of their community and to create art, video and written projects inspired by this history.



  • Kensington Narrators began in a local church and is made up of community members and local arts professionals, many of whom formed part of the wider community emergency volunteer task force in the months preceding the fire, who then chose to focus on delivering and partnering with projects that had and artistic or narrative purpose (such as after school art workshops for teenagers, family art opportunities, turning carnival green and producing archive films). 
  • Many of the members were working on separate creative projects before 2017 and have since chosen to work collaboratively and cross-organizationally in order to: support each other; better serve their community; and make a unified effort to counteract the mainstream media narrative by creating more diverse opportunities for people to get their work seen amongst themselves and by mainstream audiences.


  • The Bishopsgate Institute is dedicated to opening minds, challenging perceptions and enriching lives. The Institute's printed and archival collections cover a variety of subject areas exploring the experiences of everyday people, and facilitating the study of history from below. They are also home to a growing number of photographic collections (with a focus on street photography), and oral history collections created by heritage projects and community groups. 
  • They have world-renowned collections on London history, labour and socialist history, freethought and humanism, co-operation, and protest and campaigning.
  • Their mission is to provide welcoming and inspiring spaces for people with a thirst for knowledge to learn and flourish. Through the library, historic collections, courses and cultural events, they enrich, entertain, and stimulate independent thought in a vibrant city environment. 
  • Since 1895 they have been a home for ideas and debate, learning and enquiry; a place where culture, heritage and learning meet, and where independent thought is cherished.


  • FerArts is an artist-led, non-profit arts organisation, curating, collaborating exhibitions, developing community projects and supporting emerging creatives and artists management at 0% commission. They promote urban art and photography from artists influenced by the UK street culture through innovative concepts shows and platforming creatives aged 18-30.
  • As active artists they follow and share a social ethos of crediting artists for their work with #TAGITDONTOWNIT and thrive in building inspiring networks within the art scene to support getting artists paid #INVESTINART.